Same content. But, again, there are compromises here. Loudness isn’t just about how we perceive the amplitude of a sound, it’s also about how long we perceive that level. In other words, things can only get so high in terms of amplitude. This is why elements like distorted guitars and synths found in dubstep music appear loud to us. For decades, musicians and engineers alike have been drawn to the warmth, low-end punch, cohesion, drive, and overall presence of various types of harmonic distortion effects. What does that mean for our loudness? I'd like to receive the free email course. But if we want a record to sound loud, clarity is a big part. Distortion adds harmonic energy to a sound. In this video, author Cheryl Ottenritter explains what perceived loudness is and why it’s important when mixing audio. They are not the same thing. Same instructors. Let’s say we have a snare and some electric guitars. Rather, “loudness” is the perception of amplitude. 1:30Press on any video thumbnail to jump immediately to the timecode shown. It’s not how much volume something has, it’s how much volume something appears to have. Awesome. Please try again. Notes are saved with you account but can also be exported as plain text, MS Word, PDF, Google Doc, or Evernote. Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Compression effectively takes the loudest part of the sound and attenuates it. Discover how to make your kick and bass hit hard by cutting (NOT boosting) the right frequencies! An important aspect of getting a mix loud is making sure one instrument isn’t covering up another. Thank you for taking the time to let us know what you think of our site. The Fletcher-Munson Curve details the way that we perceive loudness when different frequencies are generated at the same amplitude. Commercial releases are currently very loud, particularly since the EDM scene flushed through the mainstream market in the late 2000s. Sometimes we want that extra stuff because there’s vibe or emotion there. Taking this into consideration and achieving an appropriate harmonic balance when mixing is critical. This movie is locked and only viewable to logged-in members. This is quantified as the difference between peak level and “RMS” level, or average level over time. By compressing the overall mix we can make the quiet parts of the sound closer in dynamic range to the loudest parts, which means the overall record is louder. Develop in-demand skills with access to thousands of expert-led courses on business, tech and creative topics. We can control our peak levels using compression. Commercial releases are currently very loud, particularly since the EDM scene flushed through the mainstream market in the late 2000s. Because each instrument takes up some of the total amplitude we can actually have, the more instruments we add the less loud they can actually be. Start your free month on LinkedIn Learning, which now features 100% of Lynda.com courses. In this video, author Cheryl Ottenritter explains what perceived loudness is and why it’s important when mixing audio. But suffice to say, the fewer instruments we have in our arrangement the louder the record can get. To learn more about this in-depth, check out Mixing Drums with Compression. If it’s an angry song … ok, distort away. And since commercial records sound so loud — well … everyone wants their music, Lastly, the faster our compressor release time, the more of that average overall level we get. Embed the preview of this course instead. A 3kHz sine wave will sound much louder than a 80Hz sine wave when played at the same volume. For kicks and, Playback loudness is an ever-persistent issue in the world of mixing and mastering. The difference between quiet and loud sounds is an important part of groove, contrast, and front-to-back imaging of a record. In the digital world, a single vocal and acoustic guitar can actually get a louder playback level than a complete band. Use up and down keys to navigate. Because this movement happens quickly and subtly, we don’t really hear it as the guitars being turned down. An important aspect of getting a mix loud is making sure one instrument isn’t covering up another. This is particularly true once we add drums to the equation, which I will explain a little more about later. Use up and down keys to navigate. The electric guitars might mask the snare a hair (snare a hair lol) if they’re big and powerful. The other big aspect of how the Fletcher-Munson curve may influence our mix is, By playing up the harmonics of the bass and kick, we can get more presence with less actual level. As creators, mixing, and mastering engineers, we really have very little control over how casual listeners will perceive the loudness of the music we work on. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. If we make our elements clear, manage our balances, manage our dynamics, pay attention to the Fletcher-Munson curve, and incorporate tasteful bits of distortion into our mix, it’s not too challenging to get a loud playback. One suggestion found. In other words, if we have a sound that hits -10 dbFS and only lasts 1 ms in duration, it will be perceived as quieter than the exact same signal that lasts for 3 ms. That said, it’s an essential skill because people want their records to sound like they belong with what’s out there, and what’s out there right now is loud. If an element is getting masked we need to turn it up to be heard, and we quickly lose our space. Of course, there’s a point in which distortion just becomes noise and gets in the way of the song. Join audio post-production engineer Cheryl Ottenritter as she dives into an array of key concepts, explaining how each one plays into the creation of high-quality audio. We don’t really want to make sacrifices to how the end listener will experience the record in order to make the playback level louder … and if for whatever reason we need to, we want to do so sparingly. We just sent a download link to your inbox. In turn, this adds perceived loudness. Explore Lynda.com's library of categories, topics, software and learning paths. When using distortion as a mix tool it’s important to be mindful of where the song is going. And I learned two hard lessons. Tons of harmonic energy. We’re not going to get as much punch if we are trading off presence for fundamental tones, but such is the cost of loud playback. This way whenever the snare hits, the guitars are attenuated. It’s more like the snare just pokes out a bit more when it hits because there’s less in the way. Not only can you measure loudness in decibels, but you can also measure it in perceived loudness. Playback loudness is an ever-persistent issue in the world of mixing and mastering. I spent a long time figuring out how to create a loud mix. In the acoustic world, the more instruments we have banging away, the more energy we put into the air and the more total sound pressure level we get. Not only can you measure loudness in decibels, but you can also measure it in perceived loudness. That’s because mixing for loudness is a fundamentally non-musical concept, whereas mixing in principle is based on the music itself. In the acoustic world, the more instruments we have banging away, the more … We can put a compressor on the guitar buss and set the sidechain input to be fed by the output of the snare. The white noise. Type in the entry box, then click Enter to save your note. We can incorporate subtle amounts of distortion into our mix by saturating our clean synths, subtly clipping drums, or mixing distortion into our bass in parallel. In addition, if there are extra tones bouncing around our mix, that mud gets exacerbated when we start compressing everything. This is particularly true once we add drums to the equation, which I will explain a little more about later. Plus, more counterintuitive ways to get fuller yet controlled low-end in your mix. For bass guitar, this might mean the 400 Hz-ish range. However, “loudness” is not the same as amplitude. Learn the science behind some of the most essential digital audio terms that pop up in the post-production process. If we’re going for loudness we want to have a minimalistic approach to our arrangement, or we want to push our non-primary elements further back in the mix so the main instruments can appear louder overall. This is why a snare drum will be perceived as quieter than a saw synth even if they peak at the same level. This is done using the Sidechain input of a compressor. This is why limiters are such a crucial tool in loudness. It means that if we emphasize our 1 to 4 kHz range, we can get an overall louder playback level. Keep in mind not everything always wants to be clean and clear. This is why limiters are such a crucial tool in loudness. Mixing for loudness is more about perceived loudness than peak level. There’s also a difference between deliberate, sculpted distortion that has a particular feel and just clipping the master bus.